A balbo beard is divided into three separate parts: mustache, goatee, and soul patch. In some variations, the soul patch and goatee are connected. The balbo is named after Italo Balbo, an early 20th century Italian military official, and has been worn by a number of American celebrities, including American actors Robert Downey, Jr. and Eric Dane.
The mustache portion of the balbo beard typically extends to the corners of the lips. The goatee can be full, covering the entire chin, or very thin and narrow, depending on the wearer’s preference. The soul patch — the small area of hair just below the bottom lip — is either connected to the beard to form an upside-down “T” shape or stands alone with a small bit of space between it and the goatee. The balbo beard is usually closely trimmed.
To achieve a balbo beard, it may be best to start with a full beard and then trim it into the three-part shape of a balbo. Growing the style from scratch may be difficult, as it would require the wearer to regularly shave and shape the facial hair that is not part of the balbo style. The style requires regular trims and maintenance. In some variations, the goatee is grown longer than the soul patch and mustache.
The namesake for the balbo beard is Italo Balbo, an Italian Fascist leader, who served as the country’s air force marshal in the late 1920s and early 1930s and was one of the first visible public figures to sport the facial hair style. He earned several accolades with the Italian army during World War I and later become the governor of Libya, when the country was under Italian rule. Later in his life, he served as the commander of all of Italy’s holdings in northern Africa. He died in 1940 when his plane was shot down over Libya. Some claim that Italian leader Benito Mussolini ordered Balbo’s assassination because of comments Balbo made about Italy’s relationship with Germany.
Exploring facial hair and various beard and mustache styles is somewhat of a hobby for many men. This is exemplified in the World Beard & Moustache Championships, held every two years, often in Europe. The event celebrates creative, unusual styles of facial hair and welcomes men from around the globe to the competition.